a nice logo, sure, but it’s also great signage, professional appearance of staff, friendliness, signature touches (like you might just send a cheery Congratulations message whenever someone lodges their return), and a feeling one gets from interacting with the company or person.
A Brand proposition is:
Clarifying what your brand stands for (not just services you do) and the level of service you provide. Also see my explanation for ‘purpose-driven statement’.
When you pre-plan what your brand represents and clarify what you stand for, how to put that across in your marketing becomes less mystical.
What is Business Marketing?
Many in the professional services think of marketing as advertising, but marketing a business is:
Putting the right MESSAGE in front of the right PEOPLE (target clients), in the right MEDIA…
… and this activity can be paid or non-paid.
For example, you know paid advertising is SEM, radio, print ads, bus signs, etc. While free marketing is writing some targeted blog articles, being a podcast guest and highlighting what you do, speaking in public about your methods, etc.
So, say you talk at a Rotary club (retirees) about your latest software for compliance, you haven’t got the right PEOPLE or the right MESSAGE. But if you gave a keynote at a Data conference about your latest software – and the attendees were all looking for software for medium businesses with this need – bingo, you have the triangle.
Common Mistakes with Marketing a Business… and their Solutions
Problem #1. They put the media first
Many business people put the Media first. So they say, I want an Instagram strategy, or I want to know how to do Facebook for business.
Instead, they (and you) should go back to your ideal client and brand positioning work and look for WHO it is you want to attract.
So for myself, my ideal client A is a business director of a professional service with one to three brands, a few staff, and $200,000 – $2 million in revenue. (For those above that level, others who have big teams are pitching that level).
Problem #2. The message is too broad
This ideal client is confused about what to write on their website (they have something, it’s just not that great) and what to put in blogs and in videos. What they have is usually bland, standard, corporate and broad. The message is too generic and offers no insight into the personality of the leaders, the ethos of the business, and the specific value they bring (through an education framework if its blogging).
They need guidance for that.
Problem #3. The media type is wrong
The director level person is really busy and does not loiter on Facebook for long. Many of the lovely people I meet on Facebook are soloists and cannot afford my services. Rats tails.
So, to reach this ideal client A, I have to know the media they use. It is likely LinkedIn and the telephone for business relationship-building. They might even listen to top podcasts on a weekend.
Yes, the humble phone is often overlooked in marketing. Relationship building with the phone is a marketing tactic. Not pitching at this stage, just asking questions and noting the answers in a CRM and perhaps offering a free booklet or someone else’s seminar.
Problem #4. Not digging into the real Client Persona
So I know their media, but now I need to create the right message. Spying (sorry, I mean researching) on people’s questions and business forum posts is getting to the real. I want to know the nitty-gritty struggles and concerns of Directors, not the shiny posts they are publicly putting out to impress their peers on LinkedIn. (Questions are put into Google and collated in online research tools).
After some research into their real struggles, I can put together CONVERSATIONAL copy for that ideal person to relate to. I might come up with some short video ads as well.
“Queensland Business” is one Facebook group which is useful for identifying business pains. At the end of the day, even Directors of million-dollar businesses need someone to listen and say “honestly here is a better way than that, have you thought of this?”
What makes a Great Marketing Offer?
As a professional services provider, once you start talking about your niche, your amazing methods and your creative ideas, it’s only a matter of ending the speech (or video or book) with a simple offer in order to capture the interest already aroused. This free content or free trial can be placed on a landing page/capture form for ease of use.
The best offers in professional services really delve into their ‘ideal’ clients most wanted answers. They have problems, you have some answers, so you must, must talk about both. Speaking in conferences, keynotes, seminars, and podcasts can have a HUGE effect if you talk about both sides of the picture (the gritty side and the after, shiny side).
A great marketing offer also has a clear customer value benefit and a deadline for taking action.
Hinge Research Institute has done some research into high-growth professional services and found that having ‘visible experts’ talking about the business brings 66% more business development benefits, e.g. they generate more leads, demand 13x higher prices, and close more in sales. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Have you Learned ‘How to Market a Business’?
Marketing a business in professional services is not a matter of posting to Facebook daily (a common tactic). It is getting really clear answers to your ideal clients’ struggles… defining your message and brand voice… and putting those messages into the right media channels.
It is having a website portal where you educate prospective clients and offer them relevant and original FREE reports (or even video tutorials).
So, begin thinking about what value-packed offer you could have at the end of the information download offered on your website. Get ’em while they’re amazed with your work!
If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please sign up for our awesome report on building a prospect list – or just go straight to Park Lane (Monopoly metaphor) and book a 30-minute discovery call with Jennifer.
When you have an integrated marketing strategy, you can drive your online marketing program with confidence. That means planning on paper, including mapping out a purpose statement, value statements, customer personas (or segmenting), calculating customer lifetime value, and defining ways to improve and narrowly target all marketing material.
Internally-directed marketing strategies, which many companies say they lack (46% in fact!*), means that you might be:
Driven by external marketing hot trends – that may not work for your audience
Confusing strategy with tactics, like posting on Facebook (which is a tactic)
Confused whether content and social media sharing is going to work or is working.
Starting with Value for the Client
It all starts with knowing your client and understanding the value you provide for them. And it’s not about years of experience, customer service, product quality, or anything else internal. If you read some of your testimonials, it might key you into some aspects that your clients love about what you deliver.
Write a Purpose-Driven Statement that you will keep internal. If the company has a purpose-driven statement written down, it can drive the larger marketing strategy.
Next, it has to come across in all marketing communications in its tone and personality. If you say your organisation will be: friendly and fully communicative, then does the website copy and brochure copy sound friendly? Do the account service people ensure full communication once a person comes on board?
We can brainstorm about these narratives by looking at the definite business value provided. The purpose-driven statement of Power of Words could be:
Listening to and empowering the business leader to impart their origin story and values, and letting these drive the language: Story-driven writing
What could your purpose-driven statement be? Ensure you write it out once in full (4-5 sentences) then in one sentence, and simpler still, again in a short phrase.
Are you Selling them Functions, but Missing their Emotional Needs?
Anthony Robbins found that people have certain emotional needs that underly their actions:
Significance – e.g. social status, a high sense of worth
Which of these needs is most driving your users or clients? When most makers and doers talk about what they do, they focus on form and function. But what the customer wants is usually stemming from an emotional need.
And that emotional benefit will be a more powerful motivator than a set of features. That’s why a lot of mass advertising concentrates on a tangible customer benefit or outcome. Rather than talk about the beans in the coffee, they share a good brew with family (connection/love)… or seem to become more attractive with a celebrity (significance)
Is there some hidden value in your offering that overrides any penny-pinching they might have?
Client Segmentation and Common Needs
Another aspect of Integrated Marketing is research into needs of your clients. There will be various personalities that come to your site or presentations… and although each will have stronger need for say security, or new tech, or more status, a lot of these personas will have common needs.
This breaking up of customers into defined groups to allow for targeted marketing is called customer segmentation. This is kind of faceless stuff, like Marketing Mgrs & Directors, companies that have 20-50 employees, etc. It doesn’t get to the reasons for doing business with you.
But customer personas allows for a deeper kind of analysis.
Let’s look at the varied customer personas for an integrative marketing & finance cloud consultancy. I’ve added some invented motivations:
…. Small business consultants – who want affordable solutions that free up time
…. Marcomms Managers – who want to look good to their leaders and create better efficiency in their department
…. Financial Controllers – who want to have tech that works much better than currently (a focus on detail) – which will help them worry less about accuracy.
There are two crossovers here in the drive for better efficiency, but the emotional needs are going to be more important.
In a full customer persona though, you will look at roles/responsibilities, pain points, their problems, what options they have for solving the problem, and how it informs their behaviour. This full analysis will drive us to develop a better marketing message that speaks to their emotional needs.
Another aspect of integrated marketing strategy is defining the lifetime value of clients.
Client/Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
This is based on:
The last time they bought from you, how much? Work out the average value of a sale.
How many sales do you get per year?
How many years do they stay (on average)?
Multiply all these and then deduct the cost of doing a sale (acquisition cost) and direct overhead. This equals: $….. for each client.
When you have the Client Lifetime Value, you can analyse various client segments and look at what is profitable. You’ll also know the value you can spend on marketing and understand why retention and loyalty is so important.
When you have CRM software that helps this along, such as Salesforce or Zoho, you can get a deeper understanding of CLV and multiple-time clients/buyers.
Then surveys (which test loyalty and assess advocates in an easy 1-10 scale) can indicate if your level of delivery is on target and if someone might promote your brand to others.
You might not even have a survey… but always have an option at the bottom of client induction forms to promote your service to their friends. This will indicate the percentage of people who feel confident enough to refer you or at least advocate your service. That’s why an online form is way better – it provides easy access to social sharing through share buttons.
Clues to Your Clients: Finding Users Who Search
There are indications about what is most popular in your field that can be gathered from Google searches. This often shows up in Search Console data.
This does not mean the searchers are ready to buy – but an experienced marketer can understand what intent people will generally have by their keywords. Are they ready to hire or buy… or are they informing themselves with a longer question or general phrase?
So, keyword research is used here to find what part of the ‘customer journey’ they’re in when they come onto your blog or website pages. (Whereas other uses of these keywords come later on).
You can also use Google Trends for comparing 2-3 topics of competing trend searches that might be happening in your area. It can help with seeing the seasonal trends as well as what is growing in popularity over the past few years.
What Clever Integrated Marketing Strategy will you Form?
Now, you will need to gather all this data (keyword lists, Google Trends, and Search Console actual search keywords) into a clear and succinct marketing plan. This can then be used for:
your search engine marketing keywords and advertising
In the next step, you can plan a content calendar and associated images that meets the trends data, events in the world, and the needs of your defined client personas.
Thank you to Lynda.com ‘Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan’ for the base theories in this article. Please ask us for a free website content review or a personal briefing to better understand how content marketing can target key clients for you.
Everyone in marketing is talking about customers, growth hacks, and selling more products. But if you’re a small service business, you have clients and services. Time is limited and that’s all you bill for. Since the majority of blog talk these days is about product selling, you’ve just turned off from it. What about new creative marketing ideas for your service…? Here are some of the best.
Creative Service Marketing Ideas — Quick Wins
Marketing can be daunting these days. Do you start with posting images on social media? Do you update your blog?
So many options… and yet there are amazingly skilled people who are not sharing their value with people of interest. Here are a few simpler methods, which can give you some quick wins:
Connect with educated people of interest on LinkedIn – and if appropriate, send them your free white paper (or any lead magnet) or event invite to your event. Also click Like on what they share.
Run a webinar on popular business issues from a slide show and notes – invite all your connections and Tweet about it 20 times over two weeks. Because webinars can be accessed from anywhere, you might get visitors from all over the world. Also post the final slides onto Slideshare, for higher visibility.
Create some audios (MP3s). Just record it to share with your blog readers and get it transcribed and edited (that’s a two step process). Editors in Australia can be found at the ipEd Directory or see our copy editors.
Referrals and word-of-mouth is gold. Remember at the end of all non-urgent business conversations to add “we rely on referrals and reviews to continue being of help”. Everybody likes to help, so it’s not a big ask.
While some of these ideas are content marketing, they were all selected because of the resounding success I have heard about from small business entrepreneurs, or experienced myself.
Five Longer Term, Brand-Building and Service Marketing Methods
Writing a business-focussed book can be a good lead-in strategy as well, but since you have to write it first, it is less accessible. When I wrote ‘Power Marketing’ from some experiences and lessons we had in business, some people asked me if I consulted in marketing. (I didn’t at the time).
Podcasting is another area of interest for the professionals. It seems lots of people have started one but those that keep going and market their podcast as well really seem to hit on a leveraged way to attract already warmed-up clients. Their voice is doing the work for them rather than them having that first conversation each time. Ensure that episodes are structured – then pay someone to design Podcast art and deliver it to iTunes and Soundcloud.
Speaking or having a stand at local business expos – if your target clientele will be there. If not too high an expense for you, this is a great opportunity to get in front of B2B people willing to grow and network. Those that aren’t wont be there! Remember to collect cards for a prize draw and if consented to on the form, these names can be put into your automated email system.
Publishingvideos that highlight key problems or give valuable insights to users in that industry. Remember to make it broader than your business. Of course, add a link to your website in the description unless loading straight into Facebook.
Building long-term partnerships with other businesses who target the niche market you do. Especially if your time in this business has not been very long, but you have expertise, a partnership with an association, a visible blogger in your industry, or a media group will help you get more traction – while they get some key industry insights and give value to their readers. (More in the clever partnerships article by LittleBlackBook Marketing).
Do generous / crazy / amazing stuff and put out a press release each time. The press release should sound ‘real’ and be targeted to the readership of the paper, web portal or station. See ‘the Happiness Ninja’ for a great example of media promotion – see video.
This list of creative marketing ideas is just the start! You can see there are many ways to create a strong brand presence in your own market. Publishing helpful and relevant content… plus building partnerships for leveraging your content… are the main ways suggested to aid brand visibility and get real leads.
Have you ever done the revealing process of compiling a Marketing Plan? If you do, you’ll discover what a difference it can make to your consulting business’s vision, plan, and future marketing strategy. (Get a Marketing Planning Template below).
People often overlook the most simple and helpful things in their rush to ‘get on with it’ and bring in some leads. If you’re presently stuck with poor website conversion, lost leads (due to wrong market fit), or dismal numbers from advertising, then going back to the planning and targeting stage is going to help you immensely.
The Government’s ‘My Business’ tools are handy—and the best part is, they’re free. If you haven’t done a marketing plan or schedule yet, then take a look at the extensive Marketing Plan template and guide. In our forthcoming course Marketing for influencers, we provide a Marketing plan template, example, and message template.
A written Marketing Plan will help you see who your target is, your positioning and point of difference, and then in a Marketing Schedule, you can allocate time and money to the avenues that will attract that target the best.
What Could go Wrong if a Consultant doesn’t have a Marketing Plan?
Let’s say you don’t have a written marketing plan and someone offers you directory advertising. You flounder and then decide to pay for a feature profile, after all, you need a good start to your marketing. But if you haven’t done some research about your buyers (how they buy) and also allocated a marketing budget, you could be tipping out much of your annual budget on one unproven tactic. The audience of the directory might be too broad, too price conscious, or simply not aware of your sector.
If you don’t know your target market intimately, then you are pretty much firing off a gun in all directions… hoping to hit the person who wants your offering. (Look at doing our Niche Marketing email course, it’s totally free).
In Marketing, Positioning Counts
Everything in the plan is tied to another key element. As an example, in determining your market position, you decide on fairly high end, because in your market research you heard several times that business users just cannot get the sort of proprietary information and advice you have, and if they don’t then it costs them thousands (research linked to value and positioning).
To reach business users that have this problem, think about how they would find you. They don’t tend to flick through the Yellow Pages in pursuit of solutions, in fact they may not look on the web either. Yet speaking at a business seminar and offering your book will give a solution to this ‘hidden problem’ direct to a ready audience. (You can also ask questions and the interaction can uncover further pain points).
Thus you could tie this business target market to marketing tactics, and allocate a small budget for sponsoring a seminar (or talking for free at an alliance’s forum).
In my book Power Marketing, I advise business owners to think about what underlying message you are giving with your marketing. Malcolm McLaren said, “The medium is the message”. If using QR codes, you are implying that only people with smartphones are important to you. This would be the wrong medium if you wanted to reach the over 60s homeowner market, for example.
Find Gaps in Competitors’ Offerings
A lot of business proprietors tend to pitch themselves directly against competitors, but this is a poor strategy. This is because it may exacerbate price comparisons (and price wars) rather than pushing your value and unique qualities.
In your plan, you might analyse around four or five competitors. But how should you do this?
When I was writing website copy, I would do a Google search for a client’s best local competitors. Getting a brief, I noticed it was rare that any small business owner has already analysed their competition and could easily share their customer pain points, their point of difference, their strengths and weaknesses. Yet a copywriter cannot write engaging copy without knowing the client business’s differentiation.
Or in plainer language, you cannot get to their hearts and minds without knowing what’s important to the target customer!
It’s also common sense to look at gaps/weaknesses in a competitor’s strategy or products. It helps you differentiate your own business and then form marketing messages to prospects. That said, remember not to use the competitor research phase to ‘copy’. Find gaps and innovate.
You Can Charge More
A final point is, once you have got clear on your vision, researched competitors, know your target buyer intimately, and positioned your business well with high-quality marketing collateral (and you can deliver on promises) then you will be able to charge ‘In Demand’ rates. When your solution is in demand, and rare, then your rates can correspondingly go up.
More than 20 years ago I found out that some words have more powerful emotional resonance than others. These ‘power words’ are often used by copywriters — usually in headlines — to induce a subconscious reaction.
Copywriting is any writing that persuades or influences. I wanted to use powerful words in client sales copy and other writing, and so, Power of Words was born. (At www.pow.net.au).
Although this Unbounce article on power words believes that ‘easy’ and ‘bargain’ are both power words; these never appeared in the original list of the most powerful English words by the psychology department at Yale University. Here are the 10 power words:
* The no.1 most powerful word found in studies
Also worth a mention, when you want to write a sparkling headline, include one of these:
HOW … as in How to (solve a problem you have)
Why I Turn Your Business Writing on its Head
The reason that I turn most business writing around and take out many of the we’s (if meaning ‘the company’), is because everyone is most interested in themselves. If you want to sell more widgets or sign up more subscribers, then speak directly… using ‘you’ or ‘your’. Don’t bother with puffery, jargon, and longer words than any news report; just use plain, conversational language.
If the writing is friendly, understandable, and it contains at least one call to action, then we as copywriters have done our job. At the end of the day, people buy from those they like, not those they can barely understand.
By the way, your organisation can learn the art of copywriting… an art that will keep on paying the business bills. Just call me on 0403 125 038 for a consultation in or near Redcliffe, Qld.
Understanding sales conversion principles is a necessity in any profitable business. This is because if you understand which types of media and messages get a good response, you can focus more on these and save by culling the non-performing avenues.
Plus, once you get beyond a simple solo operation, tracking all print ad responses, social media activity and email mailout responses can be a little daunting.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
Where are my main clients coming from? Specifically, what percentages are from referrals, advertising, and content… and what medium has proven the best for us?
Which ads and articles just aren’t working? Let’s remove or edit these. Perhaps try a new headline in newspaper/print ads instead of the service name. Try a call to action that contains a juicy offer. A copywriter (such as myself) specialises in writing powerful headlines, copy and offers. That’s the kind of copy we talk about; not the kind where you are infringing on others copyright!
To learn what advertising works by tracking your incoming phone calls, there are various systems on the market. One of these is called Xnum by MondoTalk.
To learn what works regarding your website visitors and contact form, Google Analytics has many of the answers, or set up a goal first to work out the actual visitor to $ conversion result. The system ‘CrazyEgg’ is an alternative way to spot web visitors’ movements.
To learn what works in email marketing, a system such as MailChimp or Infusionsoft can let you how many people opened and clicked on your emails.
Even LinkedIn has tracking tools. You can see who has visited your profile and articles, and how many have contacted you, with more information shown when you become a premium user.
So, getting to a “Yes” may take many different forms. But if you have got the tools to track costly advertising, article writing and website content, then you are way better off than the person who is just scattering out flyers and re-ordering advertising that they hope is working.